The Importance of Being Earnest: And Other Plays [NOOK Book]

Overview

Oscar Wilde created his final and most lasting play, comic masterpieces of all time, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, in 1895. Considered one of the greatest THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is a farce, playing with love, religion, and truth as it tells the tale of two men. Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, who bend the truth in order to add excitement to their lives. Jack invents an imaginary brother, Ernest, whom he uses as an excuse to escape from his dull country home and gallavant in town. Meanwhile, ...
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The Importance of Being Earnest: And Other Plays

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Overview

Oscar Wilde created his final and most lasting play, comic masterpieces of all time, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, in 1895. Considered one of the greatest THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is a farce, playing with love, religion, and truth as it tells the tale of two men. Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, who bend the truth in order to add excitement to their lives. Jack invents an imaginary brother, Ernest, whom he uses as an excuse to escape from his dull country home and gallavant in town. Meanwhile, Algernon follows Jack's scam, but his imaginary friend, Bumbury, provides a convenient method of adventuring in the country. However, their deceptions eventually cross paths, resulting in a series of crises that threaten to spoil their romantic pursuits. Hailed as the first modern comedy in England, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is Wilde's most famous work. This collection also features two other plays that Wilde penned earlier in his career, LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN and AN IDEAL HUSBAND, that also display his ability to convey warmth and wit through his hilarious characters and their outlandish situations.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307757456
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/21/2010
  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Oscar Wilde
Homerton College, Cambridge
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    1. Also Known As:
      Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 16, 1854
    2. Place of Birth:
      Dublin, Ireland
    1. Date of Death:
      November 30, 1900
    2. Place of Death:
      Paris, France

Read an Excerpt

First Act

Scene—Morning-room of Lord Windermere’s house in Carlton House Terrace.Doors C. and R. Bureau with books and papers R. Sofa with small tea-table L. Window opening on to terrace L. Table R. (Lady Windermere is at table R., arranging roses in a blue bowl.) (Enter Parker.

Parker. Is your ladyship at home this afternoon?

Lady Windermere. Yes—who has called?

Parker. Lord Darlington, my lady.

Lady Windermere. (Hesitates for a moment.) Show him up—and I’m at home to any one who calls. Parker. Yes, my lady. (Exit C.

Lady Windermere. It’s best for me to see him before to-night. I’m glad he’s come. (Enter Parker C.

Parker. Lord Darlington. (Enter Lord Darlington C. (Exit Parker.

Lord Darlington. How do you do, Lady Windermere?

Lady Windermere. How do you do, Lord Darlington? No, I can’t shake hands with you. My hands are all wet with these roses. Aren’t they lovely? They came up from Selby this morning.

Lord Darlington. They are quite perfect. (Sees a fan lying on the table.) And what a wonderful fan! May I look at it?

Lady Windermere. Do. Pretty, isn’t it! It’s got my name on it, and everything. I have only just seen it myself. It’s my husband’s birthday present to me. You know to-day is my birthday?

Lord Darlington. No? Is it really?

Lady Windermere. Yes, I’m of age to-day. Quite an important day in my life, isn’t it? That is why I am giving this party to-night. Do sit down. (Still arranging flowers.)

Lord Darlington. (Sitting down.) I wish I had known it was your birthday, Lady Windermere. I would have covered the whole street in front of your house with flowers for you to walk on. They are made for you. (A short pause.)

Lady Windermere. Lord Darlington, you annoyed me last night at the Foreign Office. I am afraid you are going to annoy me again.

Lord Darlington. I, Lady Windermere? (Enter Parker and Footman C., with tray and tea things.

Lady Windermere. Put it there, Parker. That will do. (Wipes her hands with her pocket-handkerchief, goes to tea-table L., and sits down.) Won’t you come over, Lord Darlington? (Exit Parker C.

Lord Darlington. (Takes chair and goes across L.C.) I am quite miserable, Lady Windermere. You must tell me what I did. (Sits down at table L.)

Lady Windermere. Well, you kept paying me elaborate compliments the whole evening.

Lord Darlington. (Smiling.) Ah, now-a-days we are all of us so hard up, that the only pleasant things to pay are compliments. They’re the only things we can pay.

Lady Windermere. (Shaking her head.) No, I am talking very seriously. You mustn’t laugh, I am quite serious. I don’t like compliments, and I don’t see why a man should think he is pleasing a woman enormously when he says to her a whole heap of things that he doesn’t mean.

Lord Darlington. Ah, but I did mean them. (Takes tea which she offers him.)

Lady Windermere. (Gravely.) I hope not. I should be sorry to have to quarrel with you, Lord Darlington. I like you very much, you know that. But I shouldn’t like you at all if I thought you were what most other men are. Believe me, you are better than most other men, and I sometimes think you pretend to be worse.

Lord Darlington. We all have our little vanities, Lady Windermere.

Lady Windermere. Why do you make that your special one? (Still seated at table L.)

Lord Darlington. (Still seated L.C.) Oh, now-a-days so many conceited people go about Society6 pretending to be good, that I think it shows rather a sweet and modest disposition to pretend to be bad. Besides, there is this to be said. If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn’t. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.

Lady Windermere. Don’t you want the world to take you seriously then, Lord Darlington?

Lord Darlington. No, not the world. Who are the people the world takes seriously? All the dull people one can think of, from the Bishops down to the bores. I should like you to take me very seriously, Lady Windermere, you more than any one else in life.

Lady Windermere. Why—why me?

Lord Darlington. (After a slight hesitation.) Because I think we might be great friends. Let us be great friends. You may want a friend some day.

Lady Windermere. Why do you say that?

Lord Darlington. Oh!—we all want friends at times.

Lady Windermere. I think we’re very good friends already, Lord Darlington. We can always remain so as long as you don’t——

Lord Darlington. Don’t what?

Lady Windermere. Don’t spoil it by saying extravagant silly things to me. You think I am a Puritan, I suppose? Well, I have something of the Puritan in me. I was brought up like that. I am glad of it. My mother died when I was a mere child. I lived always with Lady Julia, my father’s elder sister you know. She was stern to me, but she taught me, what the world is forgetting, the difference that there is between what is right and what is wrong. She allowed of no compromise. I allow of none.

Lord Darlington. My dear Lady Windermere!

Lady Windermere. (Leaning back on the sofa.) You look on me as being behind the age.—Well, I am! I should be sorry to be on the same level as an age like this.

Lord Darlington. You think the age very bad?

Lady Windermere. Yes. Now-a-days people seem to look on life as a speculation.8 It is not a speculation. It is a sacrament. Its ideal is Love. Its purification is sacrifice.

Lord Darlington. (Smiling.) Oh, anything is better than being sacrificed!

Lady Windermere. (Leaning forward.) Don’t say that.

Lord Darlington. I do say it. I feel it—I know it. (Enter Parker C.

Parker. The men want to know if they are to put the carpets on the terrace for to-night, my lady?

Lady Windermere. You don’t think it will rain, Lord Darlington, do you?

Lord Darlington. I won’t hear of its raining on your birthday!

Lady Windermere. Tell them to do it at once, Parker. (Exit Parker C.

Lord Darlington. (Still seated.) Do you think then—of course I am only putting an imaginary instance—do you think that in the case of a young married couple, say about two years married, if the husband suddenly becomes the intimate friend of a woman of—well, more than doubtful character, is always calling upon her, lunching with her, and probably paying her bills—do you think that the wife should not console herself?

Lady Windermere. (Frowning.) Console herself?

Lord Darlington. Yes, I think she should—I think she has the right.

Lady Windermere. Because the husband is vile—should the wife be vile also?

Lord Darlington. Vileness is a terrible word, Lady Windermere.

Lady Windermere. It is a terrible thing, Lord Darlington.

Lord Darlington. Do you know I am afraid that good people do a great deal of harm in this world. Certainly the greatest harm they do is that they make badness of such extraordinary importance. It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious. I take the side of the charming, and you, Lady Windermere, can’t help belonging to them.

Lady Windermere. Now, Lord Darlington. (Rising and crossing R., front of him.) Don’t stir, I am merely going to finish my flowers. (Goes to table R.C.)

Lord Darlington. (Rising and moving chair.) And I must say I think you are very hard on modern life, Lady Windermere. Of course there is much against it, I admit. Most women, for instance, now-a-days, are rather mercenary.

Lady Windermere. Don’t talk about such people.

Lord Darlington. Well then, setting mercenary people aside, who, of course, are dreadful, do you think seriously that women who have committed what the world calls a fault should never be forgiven?

Lady Windermere. (Standing at table.) I think they should never be forgiven.

Lord Darlington. And men? Do you think that there should be the same laws for men as there are for women?

Lady Windermere. Certainly!

Lord Darlington. I think life too complex a thing to be settled by these hard and fast rules.

Lady Windermere. If we had “these hard and fast rules,” we should find life much more simple.

Lord Darlington. You allow of no exceptions?

Lady Windermere. None!

Lord Darlington. Ah, what a fascinating Puritan you are, Lady Windermere!

Lady Windermere. The adjective was unnecessary, Lord Darlington.

Lord Darlington. I couldn’t help it. I can resist everything except temptation.

Lady Windermere. You have the modern affectation of weakness.

Lord Darlington. (Looking at her.) It’s only an affectation, Lady Windermere. (Enter Parker C.

Parker. The Duchess of Berwick and Lady Agatha Carlisle. (Enter the Duchess of Berwick and Lady Agatha Carlisle C. (Exit Parker C.

Duchess of Berwick. (Coming down C., and shaking hands.) Dear Margaret, I am so pleased to see you. You remember Agatha, don’t you? (Crossing L.C.) How do you do, Lord Darlington? I won’t let you know my daughter, you are far too wicked.

Lord Darlington. Don’t say that, Duchess. As a wicked man I am a complete failure. Why, there are lots of people who say I have never really done anything wrong in the whole course of my life. Of course they only say it behind my back.

Duchess of Berwick. Isn’t he dreadful? Agatha, this is Lord Darlington. Mind you don’t believe a word he says. (Lord Darlington crosses R.C.) No, no tea, thank you, dear. (Crosses and sits on sofa.) We have just had tea at Lady Markby’s. Such bad tea, too. It was quite undrinkable. I wasn’t at all surprised. Her own son-in-law supplies it. Agatha is looking forward so much to your ball to-night, dear Margaret.

Lady Windermere. (Seated L.C.) Oh, you mustn’t think it is going to be a ball, Duchess. It is only a dance in honour of my birthday. A small and early.

Lord Darlington. (Standing L.C.) Very small, very early, and very select, Duchess.

Duchess of Berwick. (On sofa L.) Of course it’s going to be select. But we know that, dear Margaret, about your house. It is really one of the few houses in London where I can take Agatha, and where I feel perfectly secure about dear Berwick. I don’t know what society is coming to. The most dreadful people seem to go everywhere. They certainly come to my parties—the men get quite furious if one doesn’t ask them. Really, some one should make a stand against it.

Lady Windermere. I will, Duchess. I will have no one in my house about whom there is any scandal.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 52 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2014

    Love this play!

    My theatre class is going to put on this production at our school in a few months and I can't wait. This play is unbelievably hilarious and witty as well. There are alot of big words that don't quite make sense but when you put it all together it creates the perfect classic story about betrayal and deception and diguise! I have read alot of plays in my 14 year life and this is definately at the very top of my favorites list!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2013

    Simply Delightful and A Quick Read

    This is such a brilliant play! Honestly it's simply hilarious and a must read for absolutely everyone! It's funny enough for reader's to be entertained throughout the play and it uses satirical prose to reveal a deeper meaning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2013

    Yall is stooooooooopid. Go f**k yoselves please read

    Just kudding!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2012

    Rrad silverfishes story at ski result two!

    Yay!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    Very funny

    It was awesome clasic situation. Really easy and fast read. Itvtruly leaves you with a lesson if being earnest

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  • Posted September 5, 2011

    Wonder full read

    I read this when i was in high school and instead of being bored to death my class found this thouraly entertaining and funny i recomend watching the movie :D

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Yearning to Read Review

    Jack: A young man with no parents. Has a ward - the daughter of the man who brought him up. Is entirely overprotective of her. Has a made-up brother named Earnest, a troublemaker who never actually existed and is, in fact, Jack. Is in love with his best friend's cousin, Gwendolyn.
    Algernon: A young man whose parents have died. Has an aunt and a cousin, Lady Bracknell and the aforesaid Gwendolyn. Has a made-up friend, Bunbury, and sometimes tours the country in the guise of this Mr. Bunbury. Falls in love with Jack's ward and decides to meet her as soon as he can - putting aside the fake name of Bunbury and taking on the name of Earnest, stealing Jack's place as Jack's brother.
    In this wonderful romantic comedy, nothing is what it seems, and Jack and Algernon must dig their way out of the little mess they've made for themselves so they can marry the women they love.

    I read this play for school, but I would easily read it again...maybe, now. I was super impressed by the hilarity and perfection of this story. I laughed out loud at the quirky statements that make these characters who they are. I couldn't help but fall in love with Jack. I loved the simplicity and lightheartedness. Without a doubt, this is one of my all time favorite plays.

    Using two words that I've already used, this book is "simply hilarious." I highly recommend it to ages fifteen and up. The reason for this is because I tried reading it in 9th grade and didn't get it at all. It makes much more sense now and I laughed so hard at a few statements that I remembered as boring and stupid. But at the right age, it is definitely worthy and easy read.

    Enjoy! :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Oscar Wilde was a genius!

    I had to read this in my senior year of high school. I am so glad that my teacher had this assigned. This play is so wity it will make you laugh out loud. The characters are so original and Wilde does such a good job of making you want more from them. This is a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2002

    Witty and Humorous

    This book is a perfect example of how people in society potray themselves as dignified individuals while keeping the realization that they play an important role in society. They adjust themselves to fit their own standards, and live up to their character and gender roles of their class and time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2002

    Wildes at his best

    Being the last work of a great writer it does perfect justice to his name and leaves a lasting impact before the curtain is down finally. Oscar Wilde has weilded his mighty pen in this play with its full power and churns out a biting satire on middle class hypocrisy of Victorian England. But as it is true for all great literature this play transcends itself from the limitation of space and time and becomes a classics for all ages and places. I strongly recommend this play for all theatre lovers and stage production as it will be a delightful presentation. However even simply reading of this play is as much a matter of great joy. It is certainly a great value for one's time and money so much so that its worth is really invaluable. It is certainly a literary classics and in this play Wilde is at his best.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2001

    A new bom for WW3!

    This book is a bom!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2011

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    Posted April 3, 2011

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